Better ________Than_________

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.” Proverbs 19:1 NLT

Wisdom is often seen in how one views “trade-offs” or the result of two different conditions. It is life lived in contract. For example: would you like to be poor and happy or rich and miserable? How would you fill in the blank of the statement, “better_______________, than _____________”

Maybe you have heard, “It better to be safe, than sorry.” Or how about, “It is better to be lucky, than good.” One of my favorites is, “It better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!”  (that’s a good one for politicians)

It should come as no surprise that Proverbs contains several statements of comparison using the “better______ than ______” approach. Many of these related to character, some relate to putting misplaced focus on wealth and position. Some relate to how we approach a situation.

Here are a few that I found from the New Living Translation. These will be give you sampling and some statements that might cause you to stop and ponder.

Better to be an ordinary person with a servant
    than to be self-important but have no food. Proverbs 12:9 NLT

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
    than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Prov 15:16 NLT

Better to have little, with godliness,
    than to be rich and dishonest. Proverbs 16:8 NLT

Better to live humbly with the poor
    than to share plunder with the proud. Proverbs 16:19 NLT

Better to be patient than powerful;
    better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32 NLT

Better a dry crust eaten in peace
    than a house filled with feasting—and conflict. Proverbs 17:1 NLT

Better to be poor and honest
    than to be dishonest and a fool. Proverbs 19:1 NLT

It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace. Proverbs 25:7 NLT

Better to be poor and honest
    than to be dishonest and rich. Proverbs 28:6 NLT

In reflecting on these it is interesting to know that they came from the observations of life from Solomon. Since Solomon was rich, it is easier to talk about contrasting conditions that are even better for a person than wealth. He experienced much, observed much and the wisdom he shares challenges us in our lives today.

As I look at these proverbs the word “perspective” comes to mind. Also, the word, “contentment.” In all but one of these above there seems to be two competing virtues. For example, patience versus self-control; honesty  versus dishonesty; peace versus conflict. Contentment is in view when we read the contrast between “crust eaten in peace versus feasting in conflict.”

Once again we are reminded that our focus needs to be on the Lord and the principles of His Word that guide and direct our lives. It is easy to covet the condition of others or to just resent the situation in which we find ourselves. Neither is the Lord’s desire for us.

Prayer for today… Lord thank You for wisdom that we need when we face the circumstances of life. Thank You that You call us to “peaceful living.” May our perspective and contentment be shaped by our focus on You.